Conquering the First Client
Jul 19, 2019
Category: The Ohio State University
Tuesday, June 11, I laid in bed, tossing and turning, unable to sleep. Thoughts raced through my head as my first day of fieldwork approached: will I arrive to the client on time? Which workpapers will I be assigned? Will I work well with my team? Will I have the opportunity to talk to the client? Will I get my work done on time?
The next morning, I arrived to the client at 8:30, and I saw my team manager outside waiting for me. We entered the office where I met the client and the rest of my team. Immediately, I felt at ease. The team and I set up our workspace, and my manager started to go over his expectations for the next two days. Naturally, I had no idea where to begin when my manager assigned me to the M series, but luckily he did not expect me to dive in head first. He walked over to me and guided me through how to begin each of the workpapers and which client-provided records to reference to complete each document. From there, I spent the next two days working my way through the M-series, asking my senior questions as they came to me, going out to lunch with my team, and gaining a better understanding of public accounting. When I left the client after two days of fieldwork, the questions that loomed in my head on Tuesday night dissipated and I was left with one lingering question: when can I go to my next client? My team did not make me feel like an intern, but rather, they made me feel like a staff member. I had meaningful responsibilities; it was up to me to complete my work to the highest quality because my team was depending on me. In hindsight, fieldwork with Cohen & Company is not stressful, but rather exciting and something to anticipate.
To future interns who experience anxiety before their first client, here is my advice: RELAX. Cohen & Company creates an environment to make interns feel welcome, and more importantly, valued. Secondly, ask questions as they come to you. Do not spend unnecessary time staring at a workpaper when your seniors and managers want to help you. It is more efficient to take your time, to ask questions, and to complete your work correctly than to continue to make errors and to correct them multiple times. Also, compile your questions and ask your superior to sit down with you to answer them. This way, you will not feel as though you are bothering your superior (although, I have yet to encounter an employee at this firm who is bothered by questions). Third, listen to conversations your teammates have with the client. As an intern, you will not directly interact with the client often, but be observant. Listen to the interactions your manager has with the client because one day it will be your turn to ask the questions. Finally, maintain a positive attitude. It may sound cliché; however, it is easy to fall into a state of frustration when you are unable to tie a workpaper item to the trial balance. Keep your composure and ask your manager for assistance or a push in the right direction. Asking for help demonstrates strength not weakness! All in all, you are sure to find yourself challenged during your time with the client, but ultimately, you will learn an immense amount about public accounting. Cohen & Company creates an environment to learn and to perform meaningful work, so take advantage of every opportunity and interaction provided to you during your internship, and more specifically, during fieldwork.